SWABI: The provincial labour department has been accused of failing to implement the labour laws in the Gadoon Amazai Industrial Estate (GAIE) here, thus giving the industrialists free-hand to exploit workers.
Talking to Dawn here on Wednesday, labour leaders said since the establishment of GAIE in 1988, those who were supposed to uphold worker rights had remained in league with the entrepreneurs, as a result, the industrialists constituted pocket unions to thwart formation of workers’ unions.
Sher Azam, general secretary of Gadoon Labour Federation, said the forum had been repeatedly calling for the industrialists to implement the labour laws at their units, but to no avail. He accused the labour department officials of letting the industrialists exploit the poor workers.
“Labourers are forced to work for 12 hours instead of eight hours in harsh conditions, but there is no one to stop this exploitation,” he said.
Noor Rehman Jadoon, a member of the Pakistan Workers Federation, recalled that a few years back they had got registered a union of workers, but industrialists stalled its functioning through different tactics, including setting up a pocket union, to cover up the workers’ exploitation.
Haleem Shah, another leader, said implementation of labour laws in GAIE was an uphill task because of resistance from industrialists.
Arif Shah, a member of the district human rights committee, said industrialists misled the relevant officials about the workers’ rights.
When contacted, Sharif Ahmad, assistant director labour, admitted that a number of units in Gadoon Estate did not even pay the minimum wage of Rs25,000 per month to workers. He said a few days ago the department had fined a manufacturing unit Rs60,000 for not implementing the minimum wage policy.